“ Learning Tree presents over 5,000 courses annually at our Education Centres in London, Paris, Stockholm, Ottawa, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. Management Training and IT Training Courses. Hands-On training including Management Training, Windows, Microsoft Project, Java, Project Management. „
Being based in Birmingham, the main training provider in the area used by my company is Parity. Having attended a number of theirs course ranging from Prince 2 to Unix Shell Scripting, and a few courses from other suppliers, I believe I have a good selection for comparison.
Learning Tree aren't the cheapest and when attending a London course you will pay the extra, however as I wasn't paying the bill cost didn't enter the equation.
The course I took cover .NET Programming including C#, ASP.NET with Visual Studio however the course gives you the option to cover VB.NET intead.
In compariosn to Parity, the room was much better equiped with better computers and presenting aids. There was the option of changing the course mid week if the content didn't meet your requirements; something very few course providers offer.
The choice of courses Learning Tree offer are very impressive which is possibly why they're one of the more popular choices with large companies.
The post course support is great, the tutor offered his personal e-mail as a point of contact for queries but there's also a large amount of literature available.
My experience of Learning Tree was a good one, however this isn't and won't be the case for everyone. The price is the only down side, hence the 4 stars.
I have been an IT developer for 3 years now and have had the pleasure of attending many courses at various centres. I attended a 5 day SQL 2000 course at Learning Tree a few months back and have since had the opportunity to compare it to several other providers. Firstly, the courses ain't cheap. I know the training centre is next to Euston Station and they have an on site canteen but I'm not sure this justified the extra 20% they seem to charge for similar courses. If you are paying for this yourself you may want to consider QA (also in London). They also do not cram as much into the time as some others. This can be good and bad - it gives you more of a chance to learn and a more relaxed atmosphere but it also means they can charge for the extra day. The teaching quality was, however, excellent and only slightly worse than the best i've had. My colleagues at work however have given slightly less than glowing reviews and it seems that I was lucky with our lecturer. He was also the one that produced the course material and his topic knowledge could not be faulted. He used the tried and tested method of teaching/demo/DIY method which all providers seem to use nowadays. The demos were fine and the lectures only got boring towards the end of the week (although the coffee breaks helped). Break times were longer than anywhere else (don't tell the boss). The canteen was very good although got boring by the end of the week. The PCs they give you to work on are also better than other providers although this sometimes hides speed issues you may encounter back at the office. They support MCSE so thats good if you're doing it. Overall, it seems that the teaching quality varies which is just not good enough for somewhere that charges this much! If you're on a budget look elsewhere for guaranteed quality.
Recently, Learning Tree came to the company I work at to teach a group of 9 of us about C. It was a three day course, for which we prepared the room, provided the equipment etc etc. Prior to the tutor arriving we were informed that the course was for intermediate level students and yet when the tutor introduced the course we were told it was for beginners. Now, this is simply not good enough as we were sold a product (at a considerable cost I might add – I don’t know how much as I am a mere employee, not part of a finance/management department, but rumour had it that it was costing £3000) that was not as described! This aside, we went through the motions. We started with the formality of receiving course notes bound in a nice folder, filling our names in on a piece of paper and telling the tutor a little about ourselves and how much experience we had with C. He quickly became aware that the majority of us would have covered a good deal of the syllabus. With this in mind we started the course proper. I have no problem with the tutor himself. He was a very nice chap, who certainly knew the subject and the course well. However, he would often stand in front of the projector and write on the OHP, so most of us could not see what he was writing and where. Now, this is not entirely his fault, but it was very annoying! I also found it hard to follow where we were as there was no indication when we moved from one slide to the next. We covered the subjects fairly quickly, although it would have been nice to go straight to day three where there were some things that were completely new to me. We spent very little time on these subjects, or indeed on any of the sections of the course so an in depth understanding was not gained. I think that had we not had prior knowledge, that is, if we were true beginners, we would have problems keeping up with the information. The learning materials are quite nice. You have copies of all the slides, but this has
n’t been as well thought out as it could be. There were numerous occasions where we would have an example of something we could do with the code on one slide at the bottom of a page, and the actual code on the top of the reverse of the piece of paper. When you are trying to compare pseudo code to the actual code on the reverse of the sheet, it is not acceptable to have to keep turning it back and forth. In addition to this, some of the slides were out of date as they were talking about a product/standard that, at the time they were written had yet to be completed, but by the time we were on the course it had been completed a few years earlier. To me, this is also unacceptable co9nsidering how much the course cost to run. When you have finished the course with Learning Tree, you can take a voluntary exam. You get a certificate for completing the course, but you can get an additional certificate for passing the exam. This is not worth the paper it is written on. The certificate tells you that you passed (no one failed the course when we did it) and nothing else. When I phoned Learning Tree to find out about the pass mark and any other information that would give me an idea of how well I had done and where I was required to do more work, I was told nothing. The person I spoke to told me, confirmed and re-confirmed that the pass awarded was based on the standard within the group. Therefore if the nine of use had done really badly, the “best bad ones” would still have passed. On the other hand if everyone did very well but the was one person who was a few marks lower, that person would fail. On subsequent calls, this was denied and yet we still have no idea about how well we had performed. I have a theory that as long as you attend all three days, you fill in your name and address correctly on the exam and you fill in 90% of the boxes (randomly) they will pass you. (Sorry, that is probably a bit harsh, but there is nothing to say this isn’
;t what happens.) The numerous people we have spoken to on the phone, whilst being polite and trying to help, were completely useless. One person would tell you one thing, another would tell you another, and after three weeks we were no closer to getting answers. Since the course, I have received numerous e-mails inviting me to attend other courses from “the worlds number one IT training provider”. Only last week I wrote them an e-mail to ask them to stop sending them to me as I had no desire to attend another of their courses. I told them why, and the response I got said that the complaints were being passed on to someone of higher authority. It was in replying to this e-mail that I noticed that they had been sending the emails to a hybrid address comprised of a combination of my colleagues and my own email addresses. That is, they were sending these emails to “eric@….” When they should have been sent to “Kathryn@…”. Another of my colleagues has received no e-mails from them at all, and to be quite honest, I’m not surprised. It is safe to say that I will not be attending another Learning Tree course through my own choice, despite their claims and their multi-national status. If anyone is interested in the course content itself, I would be happy to revise this opinion and add it here. However, I am not going to add that information now as I am in no way promoting this course, or recommending you attend. ***UPDATE 1 (2/5/01)*** Well, since I wrote the e-mail asking them to stop sending me details of other courses, something has happened. My e-mail had indeed been passed on to someone with authority, namely our company’s account manager. Now, Mr Manager was incredibly sorry to hear of my complaints and has since spoken to one of my colleagues and to my MD (although interestingly not to me, the person who made the complaint in the first place!). It appears
that he had never been told of our numerous phone calls and was surprised to hear that we had managed to speak to so many different people when we had called. He explained that these people were new to the company and therefore lacking in knowledge. It might be worth noting that there was only one person who actually told us the truth and said “I’m sorry, but I simply don’t know”. The outcome of this, is that now they are sending us individual reports on our performance in the exam, which is exactly what we wanted in the first place, but told that we could not have for various reasons. This will also result in my happy ignorance of my performance being shattered with the imminent evaluation, which will probably be perused by my employers! Wish me luck!! *** Update 2 (24/5/01)*** Getting on for a month after we were promised invidual reports, still nothing has arrived. So much for the apologies! *** Update 3 (25/5/01) *** Here is a copy of an e-mail I have just sent to the people at learning tree by way of an explanatory update of this situation... To whom it may concern, I have already written an extensive e-mail to you highlighting the reasons why I no longer wish to be contacted by your company. I was assured that I would receive no further e-mails and yet I have just received another, and I even had a brochure delivered to me recently, which went straight in the bin. The e-mail address you are writing to is still inaccurate and is a hybrid of my own and one of my ex-colleagues e-mail addresses. I could simply filter out your messages, but I shouldn't have to. As a multi-national company that has been established for years, it should not be beyond your ability to cease all correspondence with me. Please do so effective of now. Also, I was under the impression that, following a talk one of my colleagues had with our account manager, we were to be receiving s
ome sort of evaluation of our individual performances in the exam. These have not arrived as yet, adding further dissatisfaction. As I didn't take the call myself, and wasn't told about it in much detail afterwards, I cannot provide any more information than that, but once again I am disappointed that this has not been resolved. Regards
I am a software developer. In the course of work, I have attended and arranged training for various users and developers. The training has ranged from basic computer training to using Word through to MCSE/MCSD type qualifications. Learning Tree is one of the biggest training centres around, so the odds of my eventually ending up there to sample their courses were very high. My department had sent its developers there for a couple of years. Then I joined the department, and we soon stopped using them. This is why. Learning Tree is a huge setup with offices all over the world, including America and Japan. Its range of courses is truly impressive, and few can match the variety and quantity. More specific details of the courses are available on their website: www.learningtree.co.uk Its London branch is very handy to get to, barely 100 yards from Euston station, so you scarcely get a chance to get wet. They offer a Passport scheme which costs around £5000 for 10 courses. This is cheap considering that computing courses of a 3 to 5 day duration tend to cost around £750 - £1750 each. Learning Tree classes are huge, tending to vary from 20-30 delegates per class. Compare this to most other training companies, who have a maximum size of 6 delegates, with often only 3 attending. Be warned, classes with Learning Tree get cancelled more often than with other companies. This is because they do not find it cost effective to have less than a certain number of delegates attending, and would rather cancel the class altogether. Other companies tend to flog off course places at a very reduced rate if this happens, and I've never had a course cancelled anywhere else. I have been at courses with only 2 or 3 delegates, but not at Learning Tree. That said, I would like to add that all the trainers I have come across are very good, and very capable of handling such class sizes. Learning Tree insis
t the trainers actually work in the field that they train in, as opposed to simply having academic knowledge of it. Whilst I was at the training centre, I enquired about the suitability of an object orientation course for some of my team. As luck would have it, not only was a trainer doing the course during that week, it was the person who actually formulated the course in question. My trainer arranged for me to have an informal chat with the course author. It was hugely informative and enjoyable. All in all, the trainers at Learning Tree are well rounded professionals. The main problem I come across with trainers generally is that they're simply contracted in by a training company to do a job. Although usually friendly and helpful, they have their own businesses to run and only tout for further consultancy jobs. Learning Tree on the other hand, seems to have some kind of incentive scheme for the trainers to actually want the company to do well. Not only do they get paid for each course they train, they get an authoring fee for every course they create, with royalties every time it is run. I suspect that there are other incentives, but there's only so much you can question a complete stranger about his pay package! It may sound contradictory, saying that the classes are too large, and then following it up with saying that the trainers are well able to cope. What I mean to say is that the trainers are courteous, informative and capable, but there is only so much individual attention they can humanly offer in such a large class. And therein lies the problem with the Learning Tree philosophy. If you compare a Learning Tree course with a similar Microsoft accredited course, you will find that the Learning Tree course will have 40%-60% more topics to be covered. All this makes for impressive reading, but the reality is that a Microsoft accredited course will take you through many facets of the su
bject covered, whereas a Learning Tree course skims through them, relatively speaking. The courses don't seem to be really intended for the delegate to get their hands too dirty. This is borne out by the fact that they have two delegates sharing a computer, even in the "Hands On" courses. It's promoted as a positive thing, encouraging people to work together, etc, but to a cynical old hand like me, it just reeks of cost cutting. This is definitely NOT a good thing. I firmly believe that learning to use a new package is a partially manual process. If you simply watch someone else do it, the chances are that you will miss some of the mouse clicks, and have to learn them the hard way when you eventually come to use the package for real. One thing that is quite nice is that there is a drinks evening every Wednesday. There are free drinks and snacks, and all delegates attending that day are invited. It is an ideal opportunity to collar the trainer you wanted to meet, or simply to meet other people in the industry. ~~~ Conclusion ~~~ The large class sizes were ideal for brainstorming sessions. If you had a question you'd encountered at work, the chances were that there would be 2-3 other delegates who had lived through the problem, and could talk you through it. Bear in mind though, that they would not be able to go into much depth as time is somewhat limited with the official syllabus to cover. The lunches are fairly interesting and varied. I think there was swordfish one day. The sheer number of topics in a single course is impressive. If you already know your stuff, and need a piece of paper to prove to your boss, or boss's boss that you have been trained and tested on specific subjects, then these courses are just the ticket to maximise the number of topics covered in the least amount of time. In fact, there were a few delegates in my class who already knew
the topic inside out, and were simply going through the motions to get their certification. I never encountered this type of delegate in the more expensive and time consuming Microsoft accredited courses. The £5000 ten course passport is amazing value. If you book it at the right time of year, you can even get 10% off it. If you are one of these people who already knows their stuff, then it may be just the ticket. My only problem is that I can't quite envisage any other type of delegate using it, as all ten courses have to be taken within a year of the first course. Imagine that you are starting from scratch. You have a year in which to take 10 courses. That's one every 5 weeks. Three weeks preparing, and then one week attending the course. After the course, you would ideally spend a week going through what was covered. If you really had no prior knowledge of the subject, it would be very heavy going. I don't see how you would get any work done at the office. And that's before annual hols are taken into account... So there you have it. Maybe I'm just a difficult customer. Most of my suppliers would probably agree.